11 Best Cheap Rolling Backpacks: Your Buyer’s Guide

cheap rolling backpacks

It’s clear to see why so many people dislike school. There are the long nights of homework, endless quizzes, and worst of all, having to lug around enough reading material to permanently damage your back. A rolling backpack can help with the latter but they are often expensive. Worry not, as we’ve rounded up our favorite cheap rolling backpacks to protect your back without hurting your wallet.

What Are the Best Cheap Rolling Backpacks in 2021?

rockland-rolling-backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Low price tag
  • Padded laptop compartment
  • 40L storage
Price: $68.64 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
targus-compact Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Lightweight
  • 31L storage
  • Large side pockets
Price: $66.34 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
high-sierra-rolling-backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Smooth wheels
  • Rigid design
  • Large main compartment
Price: $189.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
j-world-ny-rolling Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 34L storage
  • Lots of pockets
  • Comfy straps
Price: $75.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
embassy-leather-rolling Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Durable
  • Solid handle
  • 40L storage
Price: $45.55 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
everest-rolling-backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Cheap
  • Solid handle
  • Lightweight
Price: $41.53 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
hollyhome cheap rolling backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Lots of pockets
  • Durable and waterproof
  • Sturdy aluminum handle
Price: $62.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
granite-gear Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Padded sides
  • Solid handle
  • 33L storage
Price: $74.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
calpak-north Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Two water bottle pockets
  • Lightweight
  • Molded bottom
Price: $36.16 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
szone-rolling1 Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Durable
  • 38L storage
  • Lots of pockets
Price: $49.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
pacific-green-wheeled Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Molded bottom
  • Lightweight
  • Lots of pockets
Price: $17.55 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Rockland 19 Inch Rolling Backpack

    Pros:
    • Low price tag
    • Padded laptop compartment
    • Large 40L storage capacity
    Cons:
    • Handle is somewhat flimsy
    • Liner fabric rips easily
    • So-so zippers

    After you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on textbooks, it can really hurt your wallet to spend hundreds on a way to carry them around.

    If you are on a budget, the Rockland Rolling Backpack delivers a surprising amount of utility at a budget price.

    It has 40L worth of storage across its spacious compartments. It measures out at 13 x 10 x 19 inches. The largest compartment has a padded laptop sleeve which can hold laptops up to 15 inches. It also has three smaller compartments for pens, small electronics, and other trinkets.

    The interior lining of these compartments rips fairly easily, but your contents will still be plenty safe from the elements behind its polyester exterior.

    The bottom part of the bag is well reinforced, and the two water bottle compartments are well stitched. If anything is going to go wrong with this bag, it will be the handle not collapsing down all the way.

    On paper, this bag offers just about everything you’d need out of a bag and is also one of the cheapest options available. It’s up to you to decide how well-built your bag needs to be, but if you are only getting a backpack for light use, you will survive with this pick.

  2. 2. Targus Compact Rolling Backpack

    Pros:
    • Lightweight and durable
    • Large 31L storage capacity
    • Two large side pockets
    Cons:
    • Wheels do not take abuse well
    • Poorly placed laptop sleeve
    • Wheels are loud

    Targus’ Compact Rolling Backpack is a solid deal on a fully equipped rolling backpack. It is lightweight and durable. It also has a generous 31L storage volume across two pockets and a smaller compartment for trinkets.

    This bag measures out at 7.5 x 13.4 x 19.2 inches, with the main compartment making up a bulk of this space.

    The main compartment has a removable sleeve to protect laptops up to 15 inches, but curiously, it is on the front of the main compartment rather than the back.

    This is an annoyance, as the bag will flop forward when the main compartment is opened all the way unless you counterbalance it with more stuff.

    Still, the other compartments work fine, especially the two deep side mesh pockets. One of these side pockets is zippered.

    The bottom of the pack is reinforced with PVC and will handle plenty of abuse. The pack’s wheels, however, will scratch and eventually break if you are too rough on them. They are also loud compared to the other bags on this list.

    Still, for the price, this is a great way to relieve your back of the impossible duty that is holding all of your textbooks.

  3. 3. High Sierra Freewheel Wheeled Backpack

    Pros:
    • Smooth rolling wheels
    • Rigid reinforced design protects contents
    • Deep and spacious main compartment
    Cons:
    • Heavier and bulkier than non-rolling backpacks
    • Zippers can be finicky
    • Only one water bottle pocket

    The High Sierra Freewheel is a stylish and spacious backpack that can be worn on your back or just as easily rolled at your side. It has smooth-rolling wheels and a beefy telescoping handle that folds away and zips out of sight with ease.

    The Freewheel has bumpers stitched into its corners, plus a reinforced bottom for rough handling. The bag material is nice, and the tuck-away shoulder straps are well padded to offset the extra discomfort you will experience from the frame for the wheels.

    The storage volume is good enough to justify the need for the wheels. But then again your insane book load probably does that for you.

    Thee Freewheel has about as much space as High Sierra’s highly-rated Swerve bag, minus the extra space needed for the wheels and telescoping handle.

    Its main compartment has a laptop sleeve for laptops up to 15 inches in screen size and plenty of space for books and binders.

    Its two front compartments are smaller half-zip pockets for more important trinkets. One has an organizer for smaller objects. This pack has one water bottle pocket on the right side.

    This bag’s combination of quality materials, convenient compartmentalization, and fair price make it a standout pick among cheap rolling backpacks.

  4. 4. J World New York Sunrise Rolling Backpack

    Pros:
    • Large 34L storage capacity
    • Good compartmentalization
    • Comfy padded shoulder straps
    Cons:
    • No laptop sleeve
    • Wheels do not take abuse well
    • Handle is somewhat flimsy

    The Sunrise Rolling Backpack from J World New York is a stylish rolling backpack that competes with designer styles in its large selection of patterns. Just keep in mind, this is a budget bag like the Targus Compact.

    Unfortunately, this means that is shares some of the same shortcomings. The wheels, for example, won’t last long if you roll them down stairs and across rough terrain. Likewise, the handle is a bit flimsy.

    But on all other fronts, this is a well put together bag. Its lightweight and comfortable padded shoulder straps mean that this bag would work well as a hybrid use bag.

    You can hoist lighter loads on your back, and extend the telescoping handle to roll it when the book load gets to be too much.

    The Sunrise bag is 9 x 13 x 18 inches and offers your standard array of three differently sized compartments and two water bottle pockets. Its total volume is 34L. The bag has a molded bottom to protect your supplies, but a built-in laptop sleeve is missing from the picture.

    If you are looking for a rolling bag to last you a few years, then you may have to spend a little more to see the longevity you want. But if you are just looking for a simple rolling bag to make it through the school year, the Sunrise is a great choice.

  5. 5. Embassy Leather Wheeled Backpack

    Pros:
    • Durable leather exterior
    • Solid handle and wheels
    • Large 40L storage volume
    Cons:
    • No laptop sleeve
    • Underside needs more padding
    • Bag falls forward easily

    Embassy’s wheeled backpack is beautiful and durable thanks to its Italian leather outer layer.

    True, this so-called “genuine leather” is not the same as the high-quality material used in hundred dollar packs, but you will still get a long-lasting and attractive pack.

    This backpack has one main pocket, plus three small compartments and two side saddlebags. This gives you somewhere to put just about everything you tote in a day, but there is no laptop sleeve.

    At 14.5 x 19 x 9 inches, the Embassy Leather Backpack is modestly sized. It offers about 40L of storage volume.

    The telescopic handle is fairly sturdy, as are its wheels. Still, the bottom side could use some heavier padding. Overall, this pack is not without its flaws, but it is a reliable pick nonetheless.

  6. 6. Everest Deluxe Wheeled Backpack

    Pros:
    • Low price tag
    • Solid handle and wheels
    • Lightweight and sturdy
    Cons:
    • No laptop sleeve
    • Could be larger
    • So-so zippers

    The Everest Deluxe earns its place among top cheap rolling backpacks for its surprising durability. Considering its low price, its wheels last a considerable amount longer than pricier picks like the Targus Compact.

    And while handles will always be a weak point on wheeled backpacks, this one is pretty decent.

    The Deluxe is 18.5 x 13.5 x 7 inches, giving it a volume of about 28L. This is fairly middle of the road. It makes for a nice compromise between capacity and maneuverability.

    The bag has a sizable main compartment, but also five zip pockets and two slip pockets across the exterior. That’s on top of the secondary compartment.

    The bag’s compression straps help make this bag easy to wear on your back as well.

    But I wouldn’t expect you to do that too often, as the Everest Deluxe’s quality wheels and handle really embody what the rolling backpack life is all about.

  7. 7. HollyHome Multifunction Rolling Backpack

    Pros:
    • Lots of pockets
    • Durable and waterproof
    • Sturdy aluminum handle
    Cons:
    • Small handle
    • Small wheels struggle with curbs
    • Finicky zippers

    The HollyHome Multifunction Rolling Backpack is a great deal for its lightweight and durable design and ample storage space. At 13.8 x 10.2 x 18.5 inches, it is one of HollyHome’s smallest roller bags, yet it still offers enough space to pack along your daily essentials.

    The bag offers roughly 40L of storage, most of which is made up of the bag’s main compartment. This large compartment opens wide to reach items at the very bottom. It also houses a padded laptop sleeve large enough to hold a 15-inch laptop.

    It has two zip-up water bottle pockets on the side, which have compression straps available to cinch down a smaller load. There is a smaller front compartment with an organizer pocket. The zippers on these pockets are somewhat finicky, so this is not a good bag to overpack.

    If you do pack a heavy load, the bag’s roller wheels and study aluminum telescopic handle will truly shine. This bag is easy to tow along, but the handle feels kind of small if you have larger hands. Likewise, the compact wheels struggle to make it up curbs without a heavy tug. Despite these shortcomings, both components feel very well-built.

    The bag itself is quite durable and surprisingly lightweight too. It is made from 500D ripstop nylon, which is both rip-resistant and water-resistant. The straps feel well-built and nicely padded too. Overall, HollyHome makes a backpack that is worthy of use by the heaviest of travelers.

  8. 8. Granite Gear Haulsted Wheeled Backpack

    Pros:
    • Well padded on all sides
    • Solid handle and wheels
    • Large 33L storage volume
    Cons:
    • Interior frays easily
    • High price tag
    • So-so zippers

    It may not be flashy, but the Granite Gear Haulsted offers just about everything you need out of a cheap rolling backpack.

    This polyester bag is well padded and reasonably sized at 19.5 x 13.25 x 8.5 inches. It has two large compartments and two zip pockets. Plus it has two mesh water bottle pockets.

    This makes for a volume of 33L. If you need a little more storage, you can spring a few extra bucks for Granite Gear’s Trailster backpack instead.

    The Haulsted’s largest compartment has a padded laptop sleeve for devices up to 15 inches. The whole bottom of the bag is further reinforced with taurpalite for an extra layer of protection.

    This bag even has compression straps to compact it down when it is not as fully packed. 

  9. 9. CalPak Night Vision Rolling Backpack

    Pros:
    • Two mesh water bottle pockets
    • Lightweight and durable
    • Molded polycarbonate bottom
    Cons:
    • Small wheels struggle with curbs
    • Zippered pocket for straps is cumbersome
    • High price tag

    The curiously named CalPak Night Vision doesn’t quite let you see in the dark. It does, however, provide 30L worth of efficient storage.

    This middle-sized pack is 18 x 13 x 8 inches and protects your goods on all sides with lightweight and durable Ripstop 600D.

    The bottom of this bag is protected with molded polycarbonate material, ensuring no part of your backpack sags on the ground.

    This bag has a zippered cover that protects either the straps or the wheels when not in use. This is not necessary. and can even get in the way in some situations.

    But this is easy to forgive, as you’ll mostly be zipping the compartments and forgetting about this back zipper.

    This bag has two large compartments and a front organizer pocket. Its largest pocket also has a padded laptop sleeve. The bag also has two water bottle pockets.

    This bag might look a little generic, but that’s good for a rolling backpack, which should ideally fit in perfectly with the normal backpacks.

  10. 10. S-Zone Wheeled Backpack

    Pros:
    • Stylish and durable
    • Large 38L storage capacity
    • Good compartmentalization
    Cons:
    • High price tag
    • Zippered pocket for straps is cumbersome
    • Bag falls forward easily

    The S-Zone Wheeled Backpack is one of our more expensive picks, but worth it.

    But the sheer amount of value it offers from its quality materials and large size make a viable stretch option on a budget.

    The bag is made from nylon oxford fabric, which is stylish and durable. The material is rather soft, which makes the bag fall forward easily.

    The backpack has a storage volume of 38L, meaning it can be used as rolling luggage or a daypack just as easily.

    At 21.7 x 13.8 x 7.8 inches, the S-Zone bag is decently bulky. However, it is still decently portable too, thanks to a quality telescoping handle.

    Its shoulder straps are well padded but are inconveniently hidden behind a zipper flap. It is totally unnecessary.

    The S-Zone bag has three large compartments. Its main compartment has a laptop sleeve for laptops up to 17 inches.

    The other compartments are better for smaller items. You also get two mesh water bottle pockets on one side and a zippered pocket on the other.

    All in all, the S-Zone backpack is a great purchase despite its slightly higher price.

  11. 11. Pacific Gear Treasureland Backpack

    Pros:
    • Molded polycarbonate bottom
    • Lightweight and maneuverable
    • Good compartmentalization
    Cons:
    • No laptop compartment
    • Small wheels struggle with curbs
    • Somewhat short handle

    The Pacific Gear Treasureland is a lightweight hybrid pack that strikes a perfect balance between storage and maneuverability.

    This backpack has soft and silent wheels that can handle rough terrain with ease. They are small, but they sit about 13.5 inches apart to provide a stable ride.

    The pack’s total dimensions equaling 18 x 13.5 x 8.5 inches.

    That leaves you with 33.8L of storage volume to pack books, clothes, and whatever else you need.

    The bag has a number of zippered compartments, including a large main compartment, a pencil pocket, two small side compartments, and a small front compartment.

    This bag doesn’t have a sleeve for your laptop, so don’t count on being able to safely store electronics.

    However, its molded polycarbonate bottom does an adequate job of protecting your less fragile goods.

The Problem With Normal Backpacks

Every year, students of all ages do significant damage to their shoulders and backs by carrying oversized backpack loads. We're only now finding out how severe the damage is.

To understand the problem, researchers at Tel Aviv University conducted a study that demonstrated the very real risks of permanent nerve damage caused by carrying heavy backpacks all the time.

So why aren't more people using roller packs already? There seems to be an unspoken rule that wheeled backpacks are either expensive luggage or a novelty for kids.

On the contrary, rolling backpacks are an affordable luxury that you'll see in anything from pilots to lawyers to teachers. So why not students?

You may still fear the stigma of using one of these unique bags, but they come in a variety of modern styles. They still come with straps too, should you happen to want to haul your stuff the old-fashioned way.

See Also

10 Best Rolling Backpacks Available Right Now

10 Best Laptop Backpacks: Your Buyer’s Guide

21 Best Backpacks for College: The Ultimate List

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